University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

MN Institute for Astrophysics Colloquium

Friday, February 10th 2017
Speaker: Thayne Currie, National Astronomical Obs. of Japan, Subaru Telescope
Subject: The Bright Future for Directly Imaging Extrasolar Planets with Extreme Adaptive Optics
Candidate for the MIfA Assistant Professor position

Direct imaging is the new frontier in exoplanet detection and the means by which we will eventually discover a true Earth twin. In this talk, I first will review the advanced methods used to image planets and the wealth of information we have gathered from photometry and spectra of the first imaged planets using Subaru, LBT, and other large telescopes that clarifies key atmospheric properties like clouds, chemistry, and surface gravity. Direct imaging is in the midst of a revolution, driven by the development of ``extreme adaptive optics" systems that reveal planets 100 times fainter possible than before. I will detail design, capabilities, and first-light discoveries from the newly-commissioned extreme AO system with which I'm involved, the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics system (SCExAO), which shares a technological heritage with LBTAO. Finally, I will close by describing the future promise for SCExAO on Subaru and as a PI instrument on the Thirty Meter Telescope, transformative planned and potential upgrades for LBTAO, and how both systems could work together to image and characterize younger versions of Jupiter in thermal emission to jovian or even rocky, habitable zone planets in reflected light within the next 10-15 years.

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